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A History of the Japanese People by F. Brinkley

Which was protected by Kusunoki Masatsura


was only thirty-eight at the time of his death (September, 1338). Rai Sanyo (1780-1832), the great Japanese historian, says: "I saw a letter written by Yoshisada with his own hand for the purpose of admonishing the members of his family. In it he wrote: 'An officer in command of an army should respect the sovereign; treat his subordinates with clemency but decision; leave his fate in heaven's hands, and not blame others.' Yoshisada is open to criticism for not pursuing the Ashikaga when they fled westward from Kyoto; yet it must be remembered that he had no firm base, being hurried from one quarter to another. The strategy he used was not his own free choice nor were the battles he fought contrived by himself. But his devotion to the Imperial cause, his unfailing loyalty, and his indifference to self-interest have kept his memory fresh and will always keep it fresh. If, two hundred years after his death, a chieftain was born of his blood to carry the Minamoto name to the pinnacle of glory, who shall say that heaven did not thus answer the prayer put up by Yoshisada at the shrine of Hiyoshi?"


During these events, Go-Daigo sojourned at Yoshino, which was protected by Kusunoki Masatsura, Wada Masatomo, and others. At the close of August, 1339, his Majesty falling ill, and feeling that his end was near, resigned the throne to his twelve-year-old son, the Crown Prince Yoshinaga, whose historical

name is Go-Murakami. Go-Daigo's will declared that his only regret in leaving the world was his failure to effect the restoration, and that though his body was buried at Yoshino, his spirit would always yearn for Kyoto. Tradition says that he expired holding a sword in his right hand, the Hokke-kyo-sutra in his left, and that Kitabatake Chikafusa spoke of the event as a dream within a dream.

It is recorded to Ashikaga Takauji's credit that, when the news reached Kyoto, he ordered five days' mourning; that he himself undertook to transcribe a sacred volume by way of supplication for the repose of Go-Daigo's spirit, and that he caused a temple to be built for the same purpose. Of course, these events cast a cloud over the fortunes of the Southern Court, but its adherents did not abate their activities. Everywhere they mustered in greater or less force. The clearest conception of their strength may be obtained by tabulating the names of their families and of the latter's localities:


Kitabatake Mutsu and Ise

Nitta Musashi, Shimotsuke, Echizen

Kusunoki Kawachi

Kojima, Sakurayama, Arii, Yoshikawa Sanyo-do

Nawa and Misumi Sanin-do

Kikuchi, Matsura, Kusano Saikai-do

Doi, Tokuno, Yuasa, Yamamoto Nankai-do

Ii Totomi

Neo Mino

Shinto officials Atsuta

This table suggests that partisans of the Southern Court existed in almost every part of the empire. So, in truth, they did. But friends of the Northern Court existed also, and thus it resulted that at no time throughout the fifty-five years of the struggle were the provinces free from strife. It resulted also that frequent changes of allegiance took place, for a family had often to choose between total ruin, on the one hand, and comparative prosperity at the sacrifice of constancy, on the other. Some historians have adduced the incidents of this era as illustrating the shallowness of Japanese loyalty. But it can scarcely be said that loyalty was ever seriously at stake. In point of legitimacy there was nothing to choose between the rival branches of the Imperial family. A samurai might-pass from the service of the one to that of the other without doing any violence to his reverence for the Throne.

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